Every so often, you come across a restaurant with prices so low, and food so good, you need to tell everyone (and you wonder how the business can offer such a steal of a deal lol).
Mama Asha Cafe, located at 11745 95 Street, just off Alberta Avenue (118th Ave) is one of those wonderful restaurants.
A small, family-run place, Mama Asha opened in May 2017 and has since become known in the neighbourhood for their delicious, affordable East African (Somalian) food.
I was first introduced to Mama Asha on the Alberta Avenue Business Association’s Eats on 118th Food Tour, a lovely food crawl that takes you to four different restaurants or bakeries along the avenue.
I was invited to attend their August tour, and was so pleased with the food we tried that I had to come back for a fuller meal at one of my favourite stops on the tour—Mama Asha Cafe.
At Mama Asha, they offer a small but delicious menu, featuring some of the best samosas in town, gigantic marinated beef or chicken wraps, chapati (roti) bread, and flavourful Suqaars (stir fried, diced beef or chicken).
Mama Asha roasts their vegetables, sauces, bread, and mango juice in-house.
Their “basbaas” sauce is my favourite! It’s a Somali hot sauce— a jalapeño blend with cilantro lemon lime. Delicious!
Saharla Aden is the restaurant owner and her grandmother was Mama Asha. You’ll find family recipes here, and East African dishes with Middle Eastern flavours. Quick and sweet service!
As if the taste of the food wasn’t quality enough, let’s talk about the huge portion sizes here.
They do not skimp on quantities at Mama Asha!
Add in almost criminally low prices, and you’ve got yourself a must visit, cheap, delicious eats.
Case in point: that huge wrap—just $8!!! EIGHT DOLLARS!!!
The Suqaar plates – featuring rice, marinated beef, salads and pasta (if you get the Mix plate), are just $12.
A samosa filled with beef, chicken, tuna or vegetables is just $1.50 per. (My friend Diane said she’d be full just eating a few of the samosas, for under $5!)
Mama Asha also serves breakfast all day—and it’s totally my kind of breakfast: meaty!
There’s items like an Oodkac (marinated jerky-style beef cubes served with a pita or anjeero – $11), or Beef Liver (marinated strips of liver sauteed with onions and fresh herbs, with pita or anjeero – $10). And dishes like You Shakshuka— poached or scrambled eggs in a tomato-herb sauce ($11). I need to come back immediately.
On our lunch visit, we also shared Mama Asha’s Asariyah Plate—a bready/dessert platter featuring bur (Somali puff bread), bajiya (like a Somali fritter), doolsho (Somali cake), halwo (like a jelly), two samosas, plus tea ($11.50)
This was probably my least favourite dish, because I lean towards savoury meats and food over breads and desserts, but it was nice to sample a variety of Somali breads/desserts on a single plate. Next time I’d just go for a few samosas as a delicious starter!
We didn’t try it on our return lunch visit but we did get a bite of Mama Asha’s famous coconut cake on the Eats on 118 tour. It’s called Aunt Titi’s Coconut Cake (another family recipe) and customers have been known to come back just for the cake alone.
Mama Asha is a great Edmonton food deal!
It’s small. It’s unassuming. It’s easily missable on 95 Street just off Alberta Avenue. But you shouldn’t miss it!
Bonus: There’s ample free parking (yas!)
The inside is very clean (looks newly renovated!) and overall, Mama Asha offers a whole bunch of great flavours, at big portions with really amazing prices.
This restaurant is really just one of a number of diverse food gems along the Avenue though—I’d encourage you to try more of these family-run spots! You could sample a few all in one night if you go to Eats on 118, or just do your own crawl!
There’s also some nice Instagrammable Walls on Alberta Avenue too!
And let me know if you’ve tried Mama Asha, or what your favourite 118th Avenue restaurants are!